Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
– Ephesians 6:13 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
– Isaiah 58:10 New International Version (NIV)
A friend recently described this time in history as “days of despair.” She talked about “a veil of darkness” that has covered our world. I have thought a great deal about her comments and have spent time pondering the kind of fear people might be feeling. Certainly, the natural disasters we are experiencing are causing feelings of great unease. Floods and fires, mighty winds and life-changing storms have left millions of people despairing. They have experienced loss of life, loss of their homes, loss of belongings, loss of their place in community. Perhaps some of them doubt the promise of a dawning day that brings back hope.
Add to that the far too frequent expressions of hate, xenophobia and racism that exacerbate distress. Clearly, there is enough fear and despair to go around in these unsettling days. After many years of acceptance and belonging, the young people we call DREAMERS suddenly feel the fear of losing all that they have worked for, including the country that has been “home” to them since they were children.
So how do disconsolate people move forward when a sense of despair holds them captive? How do people in the midst of fear and grief believe that a new dawn will break their current darkness? How do they hold on to their faith in the God who cares deeply for them, protects them, holds them close?
Can we join hearts and hands and stand courageously against injustice, standing with those who have been marginalized, believing that we will overcome the “evil day” that threatens us?
One voice throughout history declares with certain, living faith that, whatever we face, we shall overcome. I do not even need to mention his name because we hear his voice clearly during every trial. These are his words:
We shall overcome because Carlisle is right. “No lie can live forever.”
We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right. “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.”
We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right. “Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. Yet that scaffold sways the future and behind them unknown stands God within the shadows keeping watch above his own.”
We shall overcome because the Bible is right. “You shall reap what you sow.”
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1966
These days of darkness and division will pass. These days of dim uncertainty will pass. We shall overcome despair. As it always has, the breaking dawn will drive out the darkness of night. Hope will again rise within us as we embrace the promise of another glorious daybreak.
Amen. Thanks be to God.